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DEBATES - Referencing, prescription of cultural contents - Orange, aggregator of cultural contents on the Internet by David Lacombled, Director of content strategy, Orange

David Lacombled, Director of content strategy, Orange

 Can you go back over your career and explain how referencing and prescription of cultural works are part of the strategy of Orange according to you?

Orange has clearly affirmed his position of aggregator and diffuser. I get to Christine Albanel in December 2010. I was previously editorial director of the portal. In France, the Orange portal is the first diffuser of content, with 22 million unique visitors per month, which is more than one French internet user of two. Between 1993 and 1995, as collaborator of the Minister of Defense, I intervened in cultural projects because the state gave its arsenals, often to territorial collectivity, which transformed a lot of them into cultural places. We also, during this period, developed filming on military sites. I think notably about the movie of Yves Boisset “Affaire Freyfus”.

My current mission is to position the content strategy of Orange around our missions of distributor and content aggregator, and this in an ecosystem including Internet, television, mobile and our co-production with Studio 37. We have also announced on the 15th of July 2011 an agreement with editorial, commercial and technological partnership with the Orange cinema series channel package.

As an aggregator, do you have an activity of prescription and referencing?

We are not publishers, for example the Orange portal has no journalist. It is not our job. For content production, we have partnerships with actors who bring their expertise and strong brand.

We are also in an open approach where different media in a world of services coexist; the idea is to encourage the widest gathering of actors. For example, we develop agreements with RTL, Europe 1 and France Inter. This open model positions us as a neutral agent that promotes diversity for access to content. Each time, the goal is to use the Orange Internet audience to back up some nets from the ocean of contents and to introduce them to our users. I often compared this activity of promotion of the content in our services to a walk in the forest: 80% of the walkers will take the main path, when 20% will explore other trails and groves, the most expensive to maintain.  Our portal is similar to a forest: it has a generalist position, but it is also pluralistic and allows discovering of content more confidential.

As an aggregator, we give opportunities for browsing, but we do not assume editorial responsibility. For example, for our news page, information comes from our partner AFP that organizes it in a hierarchy.

So, you entrust a third party that is a media with the prescription?

In a way, but also we bring our technical expertise and our strategic choices. Thus, the agreement with AFP says that all published content is deleted after 8 days, which excludes us from referencing by Google. So we play the card of responsiveness and immediacy with Orange News. But as you know, the titles of AFP are by nature very factual. We have another service provider (Dioranews), which rewrites these titles to enhance the effect of immediacy on which we rely. This is an essential element of our users’ satisfaction: while the entertainment allows us to recruit users, we found that the information develops loyalty of users.

We also assume the choice of the highlighted content, some ambitious choice, for example launching a channel package of classical music  on Orange television, or political treatment of the information because we have a young target and we must contribute to his education. The group maintains a legacy of public service related to our responsibility as leader.

As an operator, do you have a specific strategy, different from other platforms?

Absolutely! We favor an open model to guarantee our users the sustainability of services. Thus, we guarantee our subscribers they will still have access to content they have downloaded even if they change their operator. This neutrality is the opposite of closed ecosystems that develop others, where devices and platforms are intimately linked. This is a commitment against the obsolescence of formats in the digital world: a purchased right for a content must be adapted by the operator to all devices on the market, a digital book for example must be available on PC; on one's mobile tablet, whatever the brand is. For this, we absolutely have to unite all of the actors around services and a common platform, our goal is to speak to 100% of the market. It already is the case with Deezer, you can listen your favorite songs on your computer, your mobile and your TV.

Can you give an example?

We currently develop this approach for digital books, which is an emerging market in France. To cover a 100% of the market, we try to bring together publishers, but also other network operators and physical retailers - the bookstores. They will also play an essential role in digital prescription. Without having to make a technical choice fraught with consequences for their business, booksellers could be the primary influencers of the digital offer .For example, when you buy in a bookstore the last book of an author, bookseller may suggest you older books by the same author, but this time in a digital format because the paper prints are no longer available.

Somehow we want to be a trusted third party and we hope agreements at European level so that operators can offer for the book the equivalent of the SWIFT system for banks. The example of banks reminds that the system must be open and does not  exclude major platforms like Amazon. Such a system should also include governments, the European Commission and local authorities; they have to imagine the future of their libraries in the digital world.

What is your business model to tackle the major players in services?

We represent an alternative for users who do not want to depend on a closed ecosystem, it is a world of devices or services, and we are also a guarantor of diversity for access to content.

To explain this, consider the example of the press and the launch of a digital kiosk. All headlines depend in part on the audience provided by Google. We worked with publishers to reference their paid products, and made them available on the Orange platform. Then we referenced their free products in the Orange world to optimize their relevance and presence, which increases opportunities to attract visitors to the release websites. We are also considering new ways of referencing and prescription, not by title but by thematic or by combining subscriptions to several newspapers and magazines.

We have also developed the video search to better bring the contents to the user. From this point of view the stake in DailyMotion is a technological choice, the aim is to reach a large and international audience and place it in a larger universe of content where advertising funding is paramount. From this point of view, we are also an actor of diversity: by promoting the dissemination and identification of content, by gathering actors around common projects, by hoping to see emerge European platforms; we counterbalance the market concentration where companies will always tend to promote the dissemination of blockbusters. We all know that a lot of artists and creators need to be produced and disseminated for the emergence of one blockbuster which can finance the entire ecosystem.